The second day of any three day event is usually considered the ‘busy’ one and there was certainly a bit more ‘buzz’ about the show today. Within the first 30 minutes we had two very good conversations - one with a prospect we met 6 months ago at another show and one with a completely new company that are now finalising the design of their product and considering outsourcing.

For companies with long sales cycles like ours it’s always difficult to judge how successful a show has been after it ends. If you’re selling ‘widgets’ then sure, you might have some leads or even live enquiries to follow up with when you get back in the office but in our experience it can take anywhere between 9-12 months to see a genuine output from these types of shows.

Regardless of the number of leads generated it’s often the more subtle benefits of exhibiting which make the difference. For example, would we have had the conversation today with the prospect we first met 6 months ago if we weren’t at the show? Unfortunately things had stalled and although they said they were planning on getting back in touch with us if they hadn’t of passed our (bright red!) stand today I wonder when that conversation would have taken place? If indeed, it would have taken place at all?

And then there’s the market ‘intel’. The electronics and manufacturing industry is extremely close knit and one of the added benefits of exhibiting at a show such as Southern Manufacturing is keeping up to date with exactly who works for who! As an example, today I’ve spoken with an ex advertiser that has moved into contract electronics manufacturing. I’ve spoken with an ex distributor that has now moved into selling software packages. I’ve caught up with an ex colleague who is now selling bare PCB’s. And I’ve spoken to an ex sales member of a competitor that is now selling production equipment back into the EMS industry.

There’s a crazy amount of change going on and exhibitions like these certainly help you keep an ear to the ground with what’s going on in the industry.

My predictions for Day Three? Probably a bit more selling to the exhibitors (despite all the no canvassing signs), possibly an influx of students grabbing all the goodies they can find and hopefully another two or three sensible conversations with genuine prospects that have an outsourcing need.

Fingers crossed!